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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Columnist: Nana Osei

Reflections on suicide and derogatory phrases in the media

We can all be victims of low affect and depression, hence don't decriminalize We can all be victims of low affect and depression, hence don't decriminalize

I conducted a systematic review on suicidology [scientific study of suicidal behaviour, the causes of suicide, suicide preventions and post-ventions] in one of my masters’ projects at Adler Graduate School, in Minnesota.

Prior to that, I was not attuned to the finer nuances and deeper connotations of phrases such as "commit suicide,” "failed suicide," "completed suicide,” and “successful suicide.” The aforementioned locutions used to chime well with me both ethically and grammatically.

Available data from the World Health Organization [WHO] indicate that nearly one million people die by suicide yearly. Suicide prevention must be prioritized in Africa.

Just as individuals who die by malaria do not “commit malaria” or “complete malaria,” it is very unfair to use such a despicable set of phrases to describe suicidal cases in the media. For example, “commit suicide” implies criminal overtone that perpetuates stigma and stereotypes.

Every human being encounters four main tasks of life. These are friendship, love, work, and spirituality. Individuals rejected by friends because of economic status or individuals who experience social parody [ridiculous imitation] due to physical appearance could develop internal stimuli that could lead to interpersonal and intrapersonal isolation; existential and phenomenological causes of maladaptive psychological behaviours.

Individuals who lost love ones like parents or spouses, jilted lovers can suffer from low affect [deep sadness], which can lead to major depressive disorder. Unemployment, business failure with its concomitant burdensome indebtedness, lack of job satisfaction, workplace abuse, organizational culture, organizational climate, fatigue, and burnout could lead to stress.

There are two types of stress (Positive and Negative). Positive stress is known as Eustress. Negative stress is called distress —these types of stress, when unchecked, leads to mental illness.

Spiritual inclination such as superstitious beliefs; minds being fixated on witchcraft [belief in mystical powers evil in nature in a secret fashion], taking solace from self-acclaimed prophets, double money [sika gari], belief in zombies, and other forms of metaphysical nonsense can lead to negative emotions.

Overzealous display of anthropomorphic and anthropocentric role of man as the centre of the universe [God helping man as the most prominent creature in the universe] without scientific efforts could lead to disappointments. The author is talking about prayers without work. It is worthy of noting that these are dysfunctional aspects of religiosity.

There are more positive aspects of religion that can enhance optimal mental functioning. These include; a meditation on scripture and strong willpower; and steadfast belief in God. However, this must be complemented by positivism.

Simply put, suicide is caused by mental illness, so it is appropriate for journalists to use the phrase “die by suicide” instead of derogatory terms like “commit suicide.” Ghana Health Services must cooperate with police to work out modalities to decriminalize suicide. The media must avoid broadcasting suicidal notes. Evidence-based research findings conclude that reading suicidal notes on the media can trigger other individuals to also die by suicide.

Note; there are many causes of suicide; the writer only focused on the Adlerian perspective. Adlerian, better known as individual psychologists; think a throttled social interest causes suicide.

The only normal people you know are those you don’t know well----Alfred Adler.

We can all be victims of low affect and depression. Ghanaian youth must respect the psychological health of their leaders and eschew abusive words they heap on them. You can disagree with a leader but do not insult.